Superhumanity conversations #2: on forgetting and love
"In Defence of (an-)Arkhē"
Matteo Mastrandrea responds to Giuliana Bruno, “Storage Space”
"By declaring his knowledge of just two implanted memories, Deckard categorically proves Rachael’s lack of personhood. Yet this is not because 'the replicant does not have a memory.' In fact, the very opposite appears to be the case. It is emphatically because she does have a memory—a memory which is not her own, populated with events that Deckard can articulate in minute detail, which is, ultimately, incapable of being forgotten—that exposes her for what she is. Rachael will never escape the harrowing minutiae of these hard-wired memories; they have been uploaded to her "mind" without knowledge or consent, and (without the intervention of her ostensibly human masters) cannot be deleted. Thus insofar as Blade Runner is concerned, in a world where technology has infiltrated everything, it is forgetting—not remembering—that sets us apart, that makes us human.
Once she computes what Deckard has told her, a tearful Rachael departs, discarding the photograph on her way out—a now useless fragment from a past she never lived. Her new status as a replicant—her objectification—renders the image (a synecdochic archive) obsolete. But why? Why is the archive so unimportant once she has been rendered nonhuman? Is it merely an unthinking emotional response? Is it because she now knows her pre-programmed memories do not require mnemonic provocation in order to be ensured? Or is there something more fundamental at stake?"
"We Carry a New World in our Hearts"
Platon Issaias responds to Tony Chakar, “Down with the World”
"There are moments in the history of social movements when commitment to a cause extends to sacrifice, or at least the possibility of dying while fighting. There is a serious risk involved when someone stands in the barricades and takes over the streets of Paris (1871), of Chicago (1886), of Barcelona (1936), of Warsaw (1943), of Alabama and the American South in the 1950s and '60s, of L.A. with the Chicano Moratorium, of Stonewall in New York, of London, Florida and Ferguson recently, of Gaza and Aleppo every day, or the plains of Standing Rock and the highlands of Chiapas. This risk is admirable in a particular way when the engagement is out of solidarity. More than 50,000 women and men travelled to Spain during the Spanish Civil War, more than 20,000 of which died there. To stand in solidarity and to fight alongside others requires an existential commitment that is never personal but always collective. Ultimately, it’s not about the 'cause' but about the formation of collective desires. Your body might belong to you, but together with your mind—and heart—it works through others. This is not just the definition of militant struggle, but of love and intimacy, too; one and the same.
To die doesn’t always mean to become a martyr. One might very well try to escape death on the battlefield in every possible way. Soldiers (and lovers) can of course also be opportunistic. War and love are both about management and communication; of resources and infrastructure in the former, and of bodily arrangements and conduct in the latter. Both are equally about desire that knows no limits, only a means towards uncertain ends. You don’t die to save yourself, you die as a soldier (and act as a lover) to liberate and unleash a collective self—an emancipated demon of uncompromised desire—larger than one’s own."
Superhumanity conversations is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Royal College of Art School of Architecture.